Take a deep breath…

Monday, January 5th, 2004, 1:51 pm

No poker last night, and maybe not this night either. We’ll see. I’ve reviewed some past hands on Poker Tracker (really, this program is just too cool) and I see that I’ve been playing some really lousy poker. Maybe I’m playing smart, tight and aggressive 90% of the time, but the loose 10% are absolutely killing me. I see now that the hot streak I had last week was disasterous for my discipline. I started thinking that I was not only smart, I was slick. I was stealing pots with check raises on the turn, slow-playing big hands and having them pay, and bossing my tables. All of these concepts are smart and profitable, when used in moderation. I’ve gotten sloppy in my play and it’s come back to bite me.

My big weekend and my disaster weekend are now pretty much a wash. I made $80 and lost $90. So I can’t be too upset. I still have $40 to play with, and I think I’ll be able to slowly build my bankroll again. I have to play low-limit Hold-Em, not VegasFlashPoker. The verbs I need to keep in mind are “fold”, “grind”, and “fold”. Fold preflop, fold fold fold. Fold when the flop misses you or you have low pair. Don’t chase. “Chase” must be removed from the vocabulary.

But when I do get a big hand, I have to pound. Pound pound pound. Pound those fools holding lousy hands, because my premium hands will win out. That’s a problem I have right now–I’m gunshy unless I’m holding the nuts. Until I feel like I can raise with top pair and a big kicker, I should stay away from the tables. I have to trust my play, trust myself, trust in the inevitabilty of statistics. If I hold AQ and my opponent holds Q5 and we both flop top pair, more often than not I’m gonna win. The fact that I haven’t won with these hands recently is merely a rift in the time-space continuum. Or, it’s just a short-term statistical anomoly. These things happen. By playing big hands and playing them aggressively, I’ll make them happen to the other guy.

Going over some hands in Poker Tracker had my shaking my head. I couldn’t believe it was me playing these hands. I had Q7 in the big blind and checked to see the flop. It came J-7-3. My opponent had KJ. I checked, he (and three others) bet, I called. OK, with middle pair I can forgive myself that. A poor play, but with four others in the pot and an overcard maybe I catch and burn these guys. The turn was a deuce. I check, the guy with top pair bets, and the other 3 fold. What did I do? Did I fold? No, I raised. Powerful play, remember? Unless the other guy has top pair with a big kicker. He re-raised. I called. Let me repeat–I called. I didn’t fold, I didn’t re-raise, which were my only two options. Get out or represent a big pocket pair. I was shouting at the screen, “Fold, asshole! What, you think this yutz is bluffing you? You think middle pair makes you strong?”

The river was a rag, I checked, he bet, I called. Horrible, horrible stuff. That was, by far, the most egregious example of poor play I could find, but I had a few more instances when I flopped middle pair and somehow, with five others in the hand, I thought that was a good hand. A hand worth calling a raise with. Wrong, MG. Unless you have some sexy draw or something to go with it, middle pair isn’t worth bragging about.

So I’m gonna tighten up, smarten up, and play some poker. Maybe not tonight. I have to check my horoscope and take my biorhythm reading. We’ll see.

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